’Heroes & Belonging – How Football, Science & Literature Shape Society’
AGYA Annual Conference 2022
The 2022 AGYA Annual Autumn Conference and inauguration ceremony was festively opened with a welcome address by Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper, AGYA Principal Investigator (PI), Egyptian Museum and Papyri Collection of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. In her speech, she emphasised the great success of AGYA in the context of current world politics.
Highlighting AGYA’s wide-spread network, AGYA Co-President Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Abdel-Hafiez gave insights into the value of academic leadership as Co-President of the academy. AGYA Co-President Dr. Amro Ali placed the academy in the context of the Arab-German research and science landscape, with AGYA taking a pioneering role when it comes to breaking new and extraordinary ground in excellent research for and in society.
AGYA welcomed 11 new members and 10 new alumni/ae
After their warm welcoming words, the AGYA Co-Presidents led the inauguration ceremony for the 11 new AGYA members from Algeria, Iraq, Mauretania, Qatar, Sudan, UAE, and Germany. For these 11 excellent early career researchers, the ceremony marked the beginning of their five-year membership in AGYA, enabling them to develop innovative projects through research cooperation across countries and disciplines. AGYA is delighted to welcome for the first time a member from Mauretania, strengthening the Academy’s outreach. For ten AGYA members, the Annual Conference concluded their active membership, with all proving a strong career boost within their 5 year membership, now starting their new paths as AGYA alumni/ae.
The Power of Football in the Arab World and Germany
With a public event on the hot topic of the World Cup in Qatar, AGYA presented a high-ranking panel with distinguished guests reflecting Arab-German perspectives, providing inspiring and thought-provoking ideas. Renowned experts from Lebanon, Qatar, Egypt and Germany discussed the social, cultural and political significance of football as well as its history and trajectory in different Arab countries and Germany. The panel discussion was moderated by AGYA member Dr. Jan Busse, who has recently co-edited with the renowned historian and author Dr. René Wildangel the AGYA publication “The Rebellious Game: Football in the Middle East and North Africa” (in German). Prof. Dr. Mahfoud Amara opened the event with an insight from Qatar and put the World Cup in a new light of opportunities:
It is important to change the stereotype of the region, show other aspects that are not related to security or violence.
Prof. Dr. Mahfoud Amara, Sport Management, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar
Hiba El Jaafil, former captain of the Lebanese women's national football team, demonstrated that when football teams strive for success and teams are rewarded in competitions, it has a very big and long-lasting impact:
After winning the Arab Women’s Cup of the under-17 in 2015, parents started encouraging their daughters to be part of the football clubs. This was for me the beginning of the female football in Lebanon.
Hiba El Jaafil, Former Captain of the Women Football National Team, Lebanon
Dr. Özgür Özvatan offered a reflective view on football, its players and actors, as well as patterns of thought considering multi-national identities in the German society:
We are still not thus far to understand that people can have multiple belongings without being part of a zero-sum game.
Dr. Özgür Özvatan, Integration Research and Social Policy, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany
Relating this point to the individual level and bringing in the theme of 'heroes', AGYA Co-President Amro Ali highlighted one player, Mohamed Salah, as an indicator, who stands between different cultural frames, playing in England and being one of the most famous and influential Egyptian of the present time:
Someone like Mohamed Salah creates new conceptual pathways to deal with Muslims and People of Colour and enables a plurality.
Dr. Amro Ali, AGYA Co-President, Political Sociology, American University in Cairo, Egypt
Imagining the Future - Science Fiction & Technological Innovation
While Arab countries have famously been starring as landscapes and figures in narratives from the West such as Dune and Star Wars, Arab science fiction has gained notable momentum in the past years. One of the latest examples for this trend is the novel “HWJN” written by Yasser Bahjatt with Ibraheem Abbas, which was so popular that it is said to have become one of the most downloaded book in Arab countries.
AGYA took the opportunity of this momentum for an inspirational mid-day session moderated by AGYA member Dr. Ikram Hili to invite Yasser Bahjatt and Dr. Karena Kalmbach, Head of Strategy and Content, Futurium gGmbh, Berlin, Germany, to reflect on the influence of fiction, imagination and fear of technological innovation.
The ability to be creative, to imagine different worlds, can lead to innovation – and science fiction can be a way to express these ideas.
Dr. Karena Kalmbach, Head of Strategy and Content, Futurium gGmbh, Berlin, Germany
Yasser Bahjatt, who is both an engineer and a science fiction writer, pointed out the connection between science fiction and patents produce. He shared his research results which show that both science fiction and patents often occur with the same frequency, suggesting that they may influence each other. In his final statement, he gave the advice to read science fiction from across the globe, as it provides easy access to the cultures concerned.
Also this year’s AGYA General Assembly is a conference in times of crisis in many ends. AGYA showed the capability to face and jointly master these challenging times that also held much good for AGYA: Keeping up a rich variety of projects, publications and events, AGYA is implementing measures and taking action.
Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper, AGYA Principal Investigator (PI), Egyptian Museum and Papyri Collection of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Panel Discussion: The Power of Football in the Arab World and Germany
Input Lecture: Imagining the Future - Science Fiction & Technological Innovation
Date and Venue
07 - 09 November 2022